Friday, June 17, 2011


WHAT’S UP?   Everything!  In just 2 weeks, the garden has exploded with new life and everything is UP. We made the “Minnesota deadline” of planting by Memorial Day.  Some years it is hot and some years it is cold.  But rain or shine, this date has been instilled in us and we feel like the summer is gone if are late!  I am not a “real” gardener and I have to confess that the Farmer’s Market makes it easy to let someone else do all the work and you still get to enjoy all the fresh, local produce.  But seeing the wonder and joy on the face of a 6 year old when he realizes that the hard lumps he put in the ground are now beautiful “big” bean plants, gives me a whole new reason to have a garden.  It is proof positive that we can believe in the magic of springtime.

Gardening with grandchildren is a beautiful experience of connecting to the earth from planning to harvest.  It is a project with a purpose.  From sowing the seeds or setting out the plants, children can be involved in the whole process.    Sharing the adventure and sharing the abundant harvest with neighbors or food shelves gives the garden a special meaning.
As grandparents retire and join the ranks of senior citizens, it is important to choose a garden that works for you and your grandchildren….that is what makes it “Grand-Gardening”….a grand experience together….not hours and hours of heavy labor.   As long as plants have 6-8 hours of sunlight, decent soil and enough water, the garden will be a success. When grandchildren are small…start small, in the ground or in containers with a few of your favorites.  Let them grow up experiencing and EXPECTING the wonder.  Then they will be gardeners for life.  
Spending time with grandchildren in gardens can teach us many life lessons. Patience is part of every step!  Waiting for the end result and watching for the all the changes, brings joy along the way.  Understanding the balance of nature teaches tolerance, bad weather and crop damage helps children handle disappointment and provides opportunities for problem solving.  A job well done and seeing the rewards of their work brings pride and self esteem.         

There are many ways to garden….I grew up with a mother who could grow anything without adding much to the soil except for cow manure.  Her kind of gardening was fun for us because she planned early, middle and late summer menus around “what was ready to eat”.   I can still hear her say, “Let’s go pick a salad” or “Who wants to pick a soup?”  And I remember the wonder of peeking under the potato plants and taking just a few tiny potatoes for one of the early summer dinners…Creamed peas with the skinny little carrots from the thinning of the rows and the baby potatoes.  She decorated salads with Nasturtiums and Violets and batter fried squash blossoms.  Her passion for the garden didn’t surface in me when I was a mother…but now, as a grandmother, I am back in step with her!  And she is smiling…or, probably laughing as the time is approaching when I have to rejoice in the number of earth worms tilling the soil or pick off the potato bugs!

Plant what kids will eat but introduce new vegetables for taste tests.  Make a list of all the different ways you can use each vegetable.  Check out our Vegetable Soup Garden, Salsa Garden and Spaghetti Garden at

And you can plant a few rows of edible flowers.  I found another grandma with a flower garden plan: Grandma's Incredible Edible Flower Garden

Every garden store and website for gardens has mountains of material to help choose products and supplies and find answers to any of your questions.  There are You Tubes that give you directions for planting techniques for everything “grow-able”.  You can spend lots of money or almost nothing at all. All the information for every part of gardening is already available.   You can go online and find hundreds of sites for Kids Gardening ideas.  Green Grandparents does not sell or recommend any specific products.  We suggest “tried and true” methods that work with the most effectiveness and the least amount of work.  We want you to enjoy the garden together!

Our top 3 choices for Grand-Gardening are companies who have made a commitment to helping solve the world hunger problem. The Growing Connection at Collective Roots says it simply:  Cultivating Food…Connecting Minds….Harvesting Hope

Square-Foot Gardening   by Mel Bartholomew  
Earth Box Gardens
Global Buckets

This is our second year using the Earth Boxes on our deck and all the advertising claims are true.  This system is a perfect solution for growing your favorite things without the worry of watering if you are away. The water reservoir works.   And the boxes come with wheels!!!

We have MANY testimonies for Square-Foot Gardening.  We are doing a modified version with our grandchildren this year, complete with an 8 foot tall fence to keep the deer out! It is so discouraging to plant everything and have the deer think it is an invitation to a salad bar.

Global Buckets was started by two brothers in Colorado who were given Earth Boxes by their father.  They have created a system like the Earth Box using 2 two plastic and PVC pipes.  Read their story…they have made a commitment to help reduce global malnutrition.

Two more methods worth checking out:   Lasagna Gardening by Patricia Lazzo uses a layering technique for soil preparation and Vertical Gardening by Derek Fell uses the “growing up” method instead of “growing out”  to solve space problems.

As I was dragging my feet trying to decide what kind of a garden to do…the old Nike slogan came to mind… JUST DO IT!    Plant something!   Let us know what works for you and your grandchildren.  And rejoice in the wonder!   
WHAT’S UP?  The garden and the website:   is  UP!
 A work in progress with many more ideas to connect children to Mother Earth ahead.